I’ve had some pretty memorable trips in my time but I’m finding it difficult to recall a time when I had two unbelievably incredible international trips in consecutive weeks.
A week ago, I was in Morelia, Mexico, wondering if anything could match that. Now, I’m back from Costa Rica, knowing that something did.
I spent a whirlwind two-plus days in Costa Rica, getting into Central America late Monday night and flying back home all day Thursday. On both personal and professional levels, Costa Rica was a rewarding, unique, fulfilling, tremendous trip.
So much happened in the last couple of days that I really don’t know where to begin. From going on a run in Costa Rica and getting lost to being at an old, venerable and true Central American soccer stadium to visiting beaches and seeing some amazing wildlife to returning to the stadium and experiencing perhaps the most insane and frenzied passion I’ve ever experienced at a sporting event, the trip was non-stop action for me.
Now, I will save my run for a separate post but it was an adventure unto itself.
I suppose I should start with the best things first. Sit back and make yourself comfy…
There were four of us writers on the trip but only three of us were able to head out to the beaches on Wednesday. We’d done a lot of work on Tuesday, both in the morning when …. um, let me backtrack a bit. I went to Costa Rica to cover a soccer match as the LA Galaxy were playing Liga Deportiva Alajuelense in a CONCACAF Champions League match. If you follow soccer, that might make sense. If you don’t… well, that’s another post for another day. Anyway, at the hotel we were able to interview Landon Donovan and the team’s coach, Bruce Arena. That gave us some proper ammo with which to get started writing, so I got started, Costa Rican style of course.
Since we’d done a lot of work, actually, all of our pre-game stories were done by Tuesday night, we had Wednesday free to ourselves until about 4 or 5 p.m. So we rented a car, one of the other guys volunteered to drive and off we went to explore the Costa Rican countryside, determined to make it to a beach. We stopped after about 45 minutes for some breakfast and to stretch our legs.
Now, we had an idea of where we were going. Our destination was Jaco, although that could have changed since we only wanted to find a beach, not necessarily visit Jaco. One of the people at the hotel had told us about Crocodile Bridge, where supposedly there were some crocodiles relaxing underneath.
We came up on a bridge but didn’t see any signs or anything. But there were people on the bridge so once we crossed it, we parked and made our way back to the middle of the bridge and sure enough, down below…
… were our buddies the crocodiles. I’ve always referred to them as “cocodrilos” in Spanish but here they’re known as “lagartos.” Whatever they’re called, they’re kinda imposing.
Are you ready? Here’s probably my favorite picture from the whole trip:
Dude has his mouth open. For real.
So then we made our way back to the car. We had to stay on the straight and narrow.
We piled back in the car and kept driving. Our destination seemed close.
But it didn’t seem close. Although we were right by the ocean, we couldn’t see it. There were a lot of trees and vegetation blocking our view. Since I’d been here before, I knew the water was just on the other side of the greenery, so when the first hint of a break in the trees appeared, I did in fact see water.
We pulled off the road once more as we were right by a beach. The sight was stunning.
And notice the best thing about these pictures: there is nobody there. We walked past a couple with a young boy and there was also an older lady with her grown daughter and (presumably) their tour guide there at this beach, but there wasn't anybody else there.
To be fair, I'm not sure if this was a great spot for swimming. There seemed to have been lots of rocks in the water, and not the small rocks you pick up and toss but the large ones that can tear a hole in the side of a boat. The water, though, was quite warm, so warm. I only went in to my ankles but it was so soothing and refreshing.
After a little bit there, we got back in the car and made it down to Jaco. Now, Jaco is close to where we went in 2009, to Quepos which is next to Manuel Antonio National Park, and I would recommend visiting Quepos. However, you can't exactly go wrong with Jaco either.
Now, Jaco looks easy to pronounce - hawk-o, it looks like, but it's pronounced haw-KOH, so it doesn't necessarily rhyme with taco.
I joked with the guys that I was going to move to Jaco and open up Jaco's Tacos, even though it wouldn't necessarily rhyme. And then, wouldn't you know, we passed by Jacos Tacos. I was so disappointed someone had stole my brilliant idea.
Well, anyway, more pictures from Jaco.
Now, these birds were strange.
Okay, well, strange maybe isn't the right word. Unique is more like it. I think the one on the left is a turkey vulture. It looks like it anyway. Not sure what the heck the one on the right is. I obviously photoshopped the one on there so they weren't together or anything but they were sorta close to each other.
I snapped some more pictures before it was time to head back to our hotel.
Parting really was sweet sorrow.
On the one hand, I was sad that my time at the beach had been so short, but on the other hand, I was grateful for every second I was able to spend there. After all, it was a gift, it truly was. I'd never imagined being anywhere near Costa Rica and then to have this thrust upon me was a blessing, a gift, a prize of some sort that I'm not about to slight.
Amazingly enough, the trip would just get better, for me of course. There was a little matter of a soccer game to attend and cover, after all. If you made it this far in my tale, I'm hoping you come back for another layer or two of it.
Stay tuned for the next part.